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Polaroid. Walkman. Palm Pilot. iPhone?



The iPhone is probably the most valuable product in the world, representing the backbone of

Apple
Inc.


AAPL 0.32%

hardware business by half a trillion dollars and with its software sales application store. It remains the envy of companies producing goods all over the world.

If history is an indication, however, America's favorite portable device will one day install itself with the digital camera, the calculator, the pager, the Sony Walkman and the Palm Pilot in a museum. Although it is difficult to imagine the death of the iPhone, change can quickly get around devices that are deeply rooted in American culture.

Consider it was only half of the years & # 90; when I spent one hour a day during my last year in high school in a room full of electric typewriters who learn to write. Today I spend most of my work time using that keyboard skills, but I have rarely touched an actual typewriter in 25 years.

"Over time, every franchise dies," said Nick Santhanam, McKinsey's Americas leading practice in Silicon Valley. "You can innovate on an amazing rat trap, but if people do not want a rat trap at the end, you're screwed."

Kodak, Polaroid and Texas Instruments are all examples of the recent past of companies that have taken too old an idea. The technology giants of today, ranging from Netflix (having already reinvented to depend on video streaming without advertising) to Google, mother Alphabet Inc. (counting advertising as the 86% of revenue), should take note of those painful deaths to avoid the same fate.

Apple's mousetrap is all but broken. Representing 60% of Apple's revenue, the iPhone exceeds 96% of the Fortune 500 companies. The phone has the bulk of the $ 545 billion valuation that Morgan Stanley assigns to Apple's broader hardware business.

Apple, for the better part of the 2000s, was the master of the next big thing: the iPod, the MacBook Air, the iPad, the iPhone. Apple was not always the first, but its products were easier to use, thinner, fresher.

With the success of the iPhone since it arrived on the scene, the next big thing was harder to find. Apple had no success on TV, a modest success with his watch, a stumbling block in music and much speculation about his intentions for autonomous cars or the creation of original programs. Now, as in a comics movie, we are all left to wonder if Apple's biggest strength could be its greatest weakness

Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, recognizes the latest delivery trends of iPhone indicating that his company is facing a potential inflection point. "Apple has always used adversity periods to reexamine our approach," Cook said in a January 2 letter to investors.

Apple has a legacy of invention, says Cook. This is something that in the end the Cupertino, California company will need.

Sales of tepid iPhones are not all about Apple in China. The competition of local smartphone rivals, the fallout of business disputes and a legal battle could make 201

9 a difficult year for the company in its most important market outside the US photographic composite: Crystal Tai.

In a CNBC interview Tuesday, he pointed to a rapid growth in services and wearables, such as watches or earphones, as a reason for optimism. One day Apple will be known more for its contribution to health care than for its stylish gadgets, says Mr. Cook.

Whatever the form, Apple's evolution will be closely monitored, even if only because the reinvention is so difficult to achieve. A decade ago, Nokia's dominance in handheld devices faded after executives failed to create a compelling operating system to make their expensive smartphone more user-friendly. The Finnish executives have told me on several occasions that Nokia knew that it was necessary to change quickly, but it lacked urgency and the resources to do so.

There are success stories, to be sure.

The Model T almost entirely supported the rise of Ford Motor Co. a century ago, when the Detroit automaker owned about half of the US auto market. Without "The Universal Car", Henry Ford would probably have been forgotten.

A closer parallel with Apple is represented by Microsoft Corp. Its best-known product, Windows, was so dominant that it attracted extreme regulatory attention while flying the Seattle software company to the personal computer market before it cloud computing existed.

"
"You can innovate on an amazing rat trap, but if people do not want a rat trap at the end, you're screwed."
"


-Nick Santhanam, leader in McKinsey's American practices in Silicon Valley

Both Ford and Microsoft adapted and survived.Fulkish vehicles like the Ford Mustang coupe or the F-150 pickup show that companies can live a productive life after the initial successful product fades.Microsoft's transition to cloud computing with its Azure product, meanwhile, has pushed the company back to the top of the run for the The most precious company title in the world.

However, it's a slogan.

"It's hard to be a pony with two tricks," Microsoft's former CEO Steve Ballmer told me on Thursday. "It's amazing to do it. It's great to do two. Do three? I have a lot of respect for a company that can make three outlets. … It is difficult to find concepts that can make this happen. "

He said that Apple's Mac product line is a trick and the so-called i-Series (iPhone or iPod) was a second." If they had stopped with the iPod, where would they be? " they succeeded because they "pushed over" with a telephone.

By all accounts, the iPhone brand near the dozen years mark has been remarkable, especially considering that the average company in the S & S index P 500 remains in the index for only 15 years.The legacy of Mr. Cook, however, depends on how well it extracts the next act of Apple.


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